UK employees have a shorter working week because their firms offer more flexible hours, and jobs have shifted from manufacturing into services over the last 20 years, according to data released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics.
The average number of hours worked fell from 38.1 per cent in the second quarter of 1992 to 36.3 in the same period of 2011.
Employees in the manufacturing and construction sectors worked an average of 41.2 hours a week from April to June, down from 41.6 and 43.1 hours respectively 19 years ago.
Meanwhile, service sector workers spent 35 hours a week working, down from 36 hours in 1992.
Part of the average shift is due to a rise in service sector employment and the decline in manufacturing jobs.
In 1992, 68 per cent worked in services, 21 per cent in manufacturing and seven per cent in construction. Those have changed to 80 per cent in services, 10 per cent in manufacturing and seven per cent in construction, shifting the hours worked downwards.
UK hours worked are below the EU average overall – 36.3 compared with 37.4 across the EU. When considering only full-time workers, that changes to 42.7 in the UK and 41.6 in the EU.